Workplace Relationships – Finding the Right Balance

January 7, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

In any employment situation, the relationship between managers and their people will be fundamental in the success of the team. Yet there are a number of differing types of relationships where the work needs to be done.

In essence, there are three basic relationships that a manager has to have with those they manage. Whilst of course these are inextricably interleaved, most managers are better at certain areas of relationships with their team members and getting the balance just right is probably what identifies the more successful.

The overlaying behaviors that the best managers have with those they lead will be fundamental in the way they get the best performances.

Emotional – Being Friendly

Getting along well with people is a vital skill for any manager to have. The ability to create rapport – often almost instantly – goes a long way to ensure that virtually any interaction is constructive and positive, with a feeling of ‘two-wayedness’ that encourages employees to work in an aligned way, rather than a more typical ‘us and them’ that bosses and employees so often experience.

Much has been written in recent years about the whole area of ‘Emotional Intelligence’. As a term it has added a level of mystery to behaviors that are pretty straightforward. We try to get on with people in the best ways we know, building relationships with them as real people.

This level of interaction and the relationships that managers form with those they work with, is the crucial factor that supports the other two key ways when they work together.

Formal – Sticking to the Rules

In any business or organization, one of the key defining features of different levels of team structure is how formal interactions take place. These might be how discipline is maintained; the way that performance is evaluated and recruitment procedures, as examples.

Managers always need to ensure that they are on top of the formal relationships they have with their employees to ensure that organizational processes are complied with.

By setting the scene with a good level of emotional balance in one-to-one relationships, managers can make formal interactions much easier, with better levels of openness, improved co-operation and even pro-activity being enabled when everyone gets on well together.

Developmental – Working Together for Improvement

As a valuable combination of the formal and the emotional, working closely to encourage and support the development of individuals in a team is the constructive benefit that comes.

Only by encompassing some of the formalities that organizations often insist on – and blending that with the great emotional relationship that a good manager has invested in – will development be seen as a positive way forward.

Those who accept the challenge to grow in their careers, so often need regular encouragement that they really have the potential for more. This only comes when they have a trusted line manager who is prepared to put the effort in to coach, support and even ‘nudge’ them into taking the risky developmental steps into the relative unknown.

Most interactions between managers and their teams will fall into one of the categories of relationships above. The capacity for a good manager to get the balance just right – with emotional collaboration as the core – will so often define the outcomes the team is expected to generate.

This balancing act is one where managers often struggle, yet with adequate focus and a preparedness to go half-way or even more, the best will find that they have employees who are only too willing to play their part too.

(c) 2010 Martin Haworth. This is a short excerpt from one of 52 lessons in management development at Super Successful Manager!, an easy to use, step-by-step weekly development program for managers of EVERY skill level. Find out more at

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Filed in: Coaching and Feedback, Employee Development | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Trackback URL | RSS Feed for This Entry

You must be logged in to post a comment.